Vaccine mastermind lashes out at Boris Johnson's Cabinet over Covid

Covid vaccine mastermind Kate Bingham blasts ministerslack of science knowledge warning it could hinder the fight against the next pandemicas she warns senior Civil Service ranks are similarly ‘dominated by historians and economists

  • Civil service ‘groupthinkholding UK back, says vaccine rollout mastermind
  • Kate Bingham warned of a lack of scientific knowledge among mandarins
  • She said the machinery of government was dominated by process not outcome
  • The woman who spearheaded the UK’s live-saving vaccine drive launched a savage attack on ministers and civil servants over their ability to handle the pandemic tonight.

    Dame Kate Bingham, a venture capitalist appointed head of the vaccines taskforce last year, lashed out at the education of Boris Johnson‘s Cabinet in a major speech.

    The entrepreneur warned the lack of scientific knowledge among mandarins and ministers had left the country ‘woefully unpreparedfor the virus and risked causing problems if the country is faced with a new killer disease.

    Speaking at Oxford University she said there was ‘a huge lack of relevant skills and experiencein the PM’s relatively youthful Cabinet, citing its lack of experience in Stem (science technology, ingenieurswese en wiskunde) vakke.

    She also lashed out at senior former ministers who, like David Cameron and Gordon Brown, have left Parliament instead of remaining on the backbenches to offer their experience.

    Giving the university’s annual Ramones lecture, sy het gese: ‘The present Cabinet is the youngest ever, averaging 48 jaar oud. Barely a third of its members have any kind of non-finance, commercial background.

    ‘Is it possible then, that here too there might be a lack of industrial manufacturing or operational non-political experience?

    ‘Nor are we awash with junior ministers educated in Stem subjects. Since ministers are generally not appointed based on any skills outside politics and are typically rotated every 18 months or so, there is no time for them to build up any deep expertise in any single area.

    ‘And within Parliament matters have not been helped by the recent trend for former prime ministers, chancellors and senior ministers to leave the Commons soon after stepping down from office.

    ‘But without this expertise it is not merely difficulty to take decisions and to hold civil servants or ministers to account, it is difficult even to frame the right question when considering policy options and choices.

    Dame Kate Bingham, a venture capitalist appointed head of the vaccines taskforce last year, lashed out at the quality of ministers in his Cabinet in a major speech.

    Dame Kate Bingham, a venture capitalist appointed head of the vaccines taskforce last year, lashed out at the quality of ministers in his Cabinet in a major speech.

    Speaking at Oxford University she said there was 'a huge lack of relevant skills and experience' in the PM's relatively youthful Cabinet

    Speaking at Oxford University she said there was ‘a huge lack of relevant skills and experiencein the PM’s relatively youthful Cabinet

    David Cameron

    Gordon Brown

    She also lashed out at senior former ministers who, like David Cameron and Gordon Brown, have left Parliament instead of remaining on the backbenches to offer their experience.

    Die 56-jarige, a venture capitalist in the life sciences, was put in charge of leading the vaccine task force last year.

    The decision to buy jabs deemed most likely to succeed before results were available has been widely credited for helping Britain to start the western world’s first vaccine programme.

    In a talk at Oxford University tonight, titled lessons from the vaccine task force, she suggested that the outcome of the vaccine programme could have been very different if it had not been for the involvement of chief scientific advisor Sir Patrick Vallance.

    She crtiticised civil servants for relying too much on ‘hired guns’ – contractors brought in to offer expertiseinstead of building the skills internally.

    ‘The problem was that the departments lacked knowledge of the commercial biosciences landscape and lack the science and technical understanding needed to be operationally effective,’ sy het gese.

    ‘Less than 10 per cent of fast track civil servants have background in stem, lower than US France and Germany.

    ‘Nor is the situation better among the most senior officials. I have only been able to identify three permanent secretariesthe senior civil servants who run the government departmentswith Stem degrees. This is a group dominated by historians and economists, few of whom it seems have ever worked outside Whitehall.

    Attacking the ‘culture of the Civil Service’ sy het gese: ‘While i was in post i saw an almost obsessive desire among officials to avoid any suggestion of personal error or scope for criticism. And a concern amounting to paranoia about media handling and the possible public reaction.

    This created groupthink and an massive aversion to risk which in turn held back innovation and the pace of execution.

    Sy het gese: 'There is an obsessive fear of personal error and criticism, a culture of groupthink and risk aversion' (File image)

    Sy het gese: ‘There is an obsessive fear of personal error and criticism, a culture of groupthink and risk aversion’ (File image)








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